The Bad Boy Sound

I was doing a little Biggie retrospective over at my…. ahem… other blog, and after listening to a bunch of the tracks for a millionth time in my life, I got to thinking about Puffy, hit Hitmen crew, and all the producers associated with Bad Boy in the 90s. The Bad Boy sound, the polished samples, the little shaker and hi hats, doesn’t get enough credit. I think these dudes get shitted on in hip-hop circles because Bad Boy eventually became a traveling circus.

But let’s take Easy Mo Bee sampling a hair dryer on Craig Mack’s “Flava In Your Ear,” how many people would think to do that today? These days we have technology that’ll allow us to damn near sample a whole entire song, and yet we still can’t make a record as hot as someone who was doing it with 12 seconds of sampling time. Are we wack or was Mo Bee just that great?

Granted in the mid to late 90s Puff got all looped out, and just started jacking every classic record in sight, but to me he at least re-did these tracks with dignity. Say what you want, but “I’ll Be Missing You” was an incredible remake. There was something in the simplicity of just looping the track and reworking it in the Bad Boy mold that was unique. It was almost as much a tribute to the original as it was a tribute to Biggie.

Take “Mo Money, Mo Problems,” as another example. Another pretty straight forward jack, but it still had a certain polish to it that a lot of other sampled tracks at the time were lacking. It wasn’t just hard drums, it was the way the percussion was laid under the samples, it gave the track even more bounce than it already had.

Plus when you listen to the Bad Boy records today, just the sheer thickness of the tracks themselves is instantly noticeble. The beats sound big and chunky, probably the affect of going to analog tape with them, but still, back then everyone was doing that. And yet these tracks sound so much bigger, more full. They fill up your speakers.

Plus there’s something to be said for straight loops. No matter how many ways you chop “Walk On By,” that 2 bar loop on “Warning” is always going to be the most classic usage.

Speaking of which, remember beats with actual snare drums? What happened to those?

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  • BrownWonda

    ur right the beats back then were dope, but its kinda become looked down upon to just loop 2 bars, so producers r looked to create more intricate tracks
    cough cough… like me

    (lol “remember beats with actual snare drums”)

  • Biggie smalls is the ILLEST!

    I miss the 90′s sound in general i still bump ready to die at least once a week to this day i can never get bored of it, just the raw lyricsm and the trak warning says it all!

  • P-Matik

    “Speaking of which, remember beats with actual snare drums? What happened to those?”

    They’re on R&B records these days it seems.

  • AO

    Woww, I didn’t know that was a hair dryer. That’s crazy. The Bad Boy sound is lovely, the Hitmen don’t get the respect they deserve, might be due only to Puffy taking up so much attention just by being Puff. Can’t front on tha boys tho…

  • Pingback: The Bad Boy Sound · Buwin Technology

  • BK Cyph

    I totally agree. Bad Boy (like Death Row in the Dre days) had a definitive sound. Rocafella didnt have a Rocafella sound, DTP doesnt have a DTP sound….
    Bad Boy was like a modern day Motown and say what you will about Puff, but the the man has a killer ear.

  • SmokinAces

    People want something back once it’s now longer there. When Hitmen were doing it, everyone hated them. I’ll never understand this.

  • flo rida evans

    You absolutely right.As much as I ranted and railed against Bad Boy in general,their beats were not to be fronted on.i hope it doesn’t return though.I want to see this ringtone garbage through…..

  • Ether

    This Fuckin’ Blog Just Got Me Depressed. It’s Sad But We Have To Be Realistic, Hip Hop Will Never Be What It Used To, And It’s Only Gonna Keep Getting Worse. I Haven’t Tuned Into A Hip Hop Station Since ’05. If Anything I Just Listen To An R&B/Soul Station Whenever I Forget To Bring My iPod Along For A Ride (Can’t Go Wrong With Marvin Or Stevie). I Don’t Mind People Listening To Flo Rida Or Soulja Boy, But Please Don’t Label That Shit Hip Hop, It’s POP! This Shit Is Mad Crazy Yo, They Should Just Have Thier Own Radio Format By Now, Call It “Ringtone Radio”. That Way When They Get Asked What Kind Of Music They Listen To, They Can Just Say Ringtone Jingles Or Something.

    Listening To: Nas – Stillmatic Freestyle

    “Since Illmatic, It Was Written, I Am…Nastradamus/That’s The Answer To The Puzzle I Gave You, Now Here’s A Promise…”


  • Eman

    .i hope it doesn’t return though.I want to see this ringtone garbage through…

    lmao we made it this far lets see how it implodes

  • Michael


  • Arcey

    Nashiem Myrick was my favorite hitman & with Carlos Broady, they made quite a few bangers

  • incredulous

    fuck. i was with you til you said ill be missing you was a great remake. i dunno if you meant remake as in song or beat or what but that song fucking sucked either way. no matter how you slice it it was shitty.

  • Trey Stone

    there’s definitely been a “Roc-A-Fella sound” since 2001.

  • khal

    “mo money, mo problems” is a fucking HUGE record. i was watchin puff’s vma 99 performance, forgot how ill that track was for a minute. you are spot on with this post.


    Mo Money Mo problems. Probably my most played tune of all Time. That shit is still a party starter, wherever you throw that on. Underground-Clubs, Hipster-Lounges or Commercial Clubs. Still bangin everywhere.

    Bring them Snares back!

  • Combat Jack

    Still proud to have been there wit the Hitmen team from day uno. Great post!!! Btw, Nashiem is now bummed out, everyone around him realizing dude is definitely bi-polar mentally. I dont think they even let him in the bldg. no more.

  • datroof

    i was around mo bee at the time. he used only the sp-1200 and the akai 950. no pc, or pro tools or bullshiit. he is the father of the original bad boy sound. the hitmen were after mo bee and were more cinematic and jackers. taking nothing away from them, both were dope